Speak English Around Town » LESSON 18 - Renting a Car

Renting a Car

Peter talks to Sam at the rental car counter about renting a car. Sam tells Peter about a special offer they're having and helps him understand how the rental fees work.

Sam: Hello. How can I help you?

Peter: I'd like to rent a car for the weekend.

Sam: What size did you have in mind?

Peter: I'd like your cheapest car, so I guess that would be a compact.

Sam: We're running a special right now. You can rent a mid-size car for the same price as a compact. It's $55 a day inclusive of tax, plus insurance. It's such a great deal!

Peter: Okay, I'll take it.

Sam: All right. Let me just print out the agreement ... Here you go, read that over, please.

Peter: I can't make heads or tails of this information. Do I really need insurance? I already have a good auto insurance plan.

Sam: Then you' re probably all set. I do recommend the collision damage waiver.* It's only $10 a day. That way, if you bang up the car, you won't owe us anything.

Peter: I'm sure I won't have an accident, but I'll take it just in case.

Sam: Very good. If you don't return the car with a full tank of gas, we charge $9 a gallon to refill it.

Peter: Nine bucks a gallon? That's so expensive. It's highway robbery!

Sam: Be sure to return the car by 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Peter: Five? That's going to be cutting it close. The conference I'm attending ends at 4:30. What if I get it here at 6 on Sunday?

Sam: It'll be another $65.

Peter: There's no grace period?

Sam: There's a 29 minute grace period. So you could return the car at 5 :29 and still be okay.

Peter: Okay, thanks. You've been such a big help.

Sam: You're very welcome. Here's the key. The car is in space A4. You're good to go.

* collision damage waiver - with this optional coverage, the car rental company cannot hold the customer responsible for any damage to the car

Idioms
  • all set
    not needing anything else
    Example: When the waitress asked if we needed anything else, we told her we were all set.
  • (to) bang up
    (to) damage
    Example: Right after Tyler got his driver's license, he borrowed his mother's car and banged it up.
  • (to) cut it close
    (to) not leave enough time to get somewhere or to do something
    Example: The play starts at 8:00, and you're planning to leave the house at 7:30? That's cutting it close.
  • good to go
    ready to go; taken care of; prepared
    Example: We've got our tents, our flashlights, and our food. We're good to go!
  • grace period
    a period after a deadline in which additional fees are not charged
    Example: My credit card payment is due by the 15th of the month. But there's a 2-day grace period.
  • (to) have in mind
    to be thinking about as a possibility
    Example: "You're offering me $2,500 for the car? That's so little!" - "What did you have in mind?"
  • highway robbery
    very overpriced; a fee that is too high
    Example: I really wanted a cup of coffee at the airport, but the coffee shop was charging $4 a cup. That's highway robbery!
  • inclusive of
    including; already included in the amount
    Example: The cost of the car repairs is going to be $350, inclusive of parts and labor.
  • just in case
    if something happens; because there is a small chance that (something could happen)
    Example: I don't think it'll rain today, but you should take your umbrella just in case.
  • (to) not be able to make heads or tails of
    to be unable to interpret
    Example: This apartment rental contract is so confusing. I can't make heads or tails of it.
  • (to) read over
    to review; to take a look at, often with the goal of making edits or making sure everything is okay
    Example: I'd appreciate it if you'd read over my resume.
  • (to) run a special
    to offer lower prices on something, for a certain period of time
    Example: The clothing store is running a special this week. Buy one shirt and get the second at half price.
Practice the Expressions

Fill in the blank with the missing word:

  1. The weather forecast calls for sunny skies for the entire week we're in Italy. But I'm bringing along a raincoat just in _____ .
    • a) case
    • b) cause
    • c) careful
  2. You want a new job title? What did you have in _____ ?
    • a) head
    • b) ideas
    • c) mind
  3. Fifteen dollars for a sandwich? That's _____ robbery!
    • a) roadside
    • b) motorway
    • c) highway
  4. You're leaving your house at 5:30 for a 7 o'clock flight? That's cutting it _____.
    • a) sharp
    • b) close
    • c) near
  5. Would you mind reading _____ my business school essays?
    • a) over
    • b) on
    • c) upon
  6. Sorry, the grace _____ is over. We're going to have to charge you interest on your account.
    • a) phase
    • b) time
    • c) period
  7. Tom wrote me a note, but I can't make heads or _____ of it. His handwriting is so messy!
    • a) tails
    • b) feet
    • c) sense
  8. We got our visas for Brazil. We're good to _____.
    • a) leave
    • b) go
    • c) be
  9. The airfare to Seoul is $1500, inclusive _____ taxes.
    • a) with
    • b) of
    • c) by
  10. How did you bang _____ your car?
    • a) up
    • b) down
    • c) on
Answer Key
Practice The Expressions
  1. a
  2. c
  3. c
  4. b
  5. a
  6. c
  7. a
  8. b
  9. b
  10. a
Answer Key
Language Lens: So and Such

So and such are both used to express extremes. They are often used in exclamations (and they are so useful!).

So
=> Use "so" before an adjective (without a noun)
=> Use "so" before an adverb

Examples with so:
Andy is so good at tennis! NOT: Andy is so good tennis player!
Angela's baby is so cute!
Jay's new painting is so beautiful. He's so talented!
Your house is so beautiful.
That was so kind of you!
John works so hard.
Kristen looked so lovely in her wedding dress.

Such
=> Use "such" before an adjective + noun
=> Use "such" before a noun

Note that when the noun is singular, "a" or "an" comes after "such."

Examples with such:
That was such a scary movie! NOT: That was so scary movie!
That's such a cute baby!
You are such a good friend.
Phil is such a hard worker.
You prepared such a delicious meal.
This project is such a headache!
Why do you carry such heavy bags?

Quick Quiz

Fill in the blank with the missing word:

  1. Emily is _____ a nice girl. I love babysitting for her.
    • a)so
    • b)such
  2. The movie was _____ boring that I could barely stay awake.
    • a)so
    • b)such
  3. The flight was _____ long that I thought we'd never get there.
    • a)so
    • b)such
  4. If you study for it, the TOEFL is not _____ a difficult exam.
    • a)so
    • b)such
  5. People in our office leave leftovers in the refrigerator for months. It's _____ gross!
    • a)so
    • b)such
  6. Nora hasn't been to the dentist in _____ a long time.
    • a)so
    • b)such
  7. Canyon Ranch is a great spa, but it's _____ expensive!
    • a)so
    • b)such
  8. You did _____ a great job on your presentation!
    • a)so
    • b)such
  9. Tina's boss keeps criticizing her. Why is he being _____ nasty?
    • a)so
    • b)such
  10. You got promoted? That's _____ good news!
    • a)so
    • b)such
Answer Key
  1. b
  2. a
  3. a
  4. b
  5. a
  6. b
  7. a
  8. b
  9. a
  10. b
Answer Key
Favorite Books

If you already speak some English and now would like to speak more like a native, “Speak English Like an American” will help you. One of the keys to speaking like a native is the ability to use and understand casual expressions, or idioms. American English is full of idioms. Speak English Like an American will help you understand and use idioms better. It contains over 300 of today's most common idioms.

Read more